Susan Wingate, Author, Part III
Susan Wingate, Author, Part I, appeared in my June 25 blog post and Part II on July 9. Her most recent title How the Deer Moon Hungers was released July 15.
JAM: What obstacles do you face now as a writer?
SW: Interestingly, there’s a wide rift between book sales of women and men writers. I don’t understand the whys or wherefores but am disheartened by it that at this point in time, women are still struggling against some sexist stigma that we are somehow not as good at storytelling as men.
Margaret Atwood, Jodi Picoult, Sue Monk Kidd, Alice Sebold, Jessica Treadway, Katrin Schumann are literary and mainstream authors. There are even more genre authors and more female authors. Think of the romance genre alone. That’s one of the biggest markets. The lists go on infinitum for many amazing women writers out there. Yet, if a reader picks up a book at the bookstore or online, she picks up a female author’s book just under fifty percent of the time (as of 2015) and that’s high! The percentages actually average out to be just less than forty percent since 1950 with male authors eclipsing the sales of women’s books.
Agents, publishers, marketing folks, booksellers and book distributors understand this. This lopsided gender gap is known industry-wide. Those who might not know are readers, which makes me think their urge to buy a male author’s book over a female author’s is subconscious. That’s not good. How do you change that kind of reading habit? I don’t know. I’m simply posing the question and the information, but it explains why female writers choose a male penname.
George Sands was a female author who couldn’t sell her books to a publisher because women’s books weren’t a thing way back then. “Who would read a woman anyway?” they asked. That was the 1800s. Good gravy! We haven’t progressed too far off that mark if women these days still have to use letters or a man’s name to hide their true gender just to sell books. It says tons about our society and the value we place on women. It’s not good unless, of course, you have the physical requirements it takes to sell books and believe me, books won’t sell if they’re written by a Boy Named Sue.
JAM: What do you want people to know about you?
SW: I love animals. I love my family and God, too, but I think I love animals the most. Don’t tell God that. We have a herd of deer some of whom I call by name. Spike lets me kiss his forehead. Do you know how cool it is to be able to kiss a wild animal on the forehead?! I’m guessing you don’t. But I do. And, no, I’m not afraid of ticks or fleas or whatever else people might think to be afraid of. I’m too drawn to nature and the wild to fear it.
As a previous city dweller, I used to think the city was dangerous. In a city you can always duck into a bookstore to get away from danger. In fact, now that I think about it, do just that, even if you’re not running from something that’s after you. Go to your local indie bookstore!
In the country, however, miles sometimes separate one person from the other and all that lays in between your home is a rocky crag and a herd of fully-antlered deer who have caught your scent. Well, sister. If you don’t know how to fend for yourself (and without firearms!), you’d best climb a tree and expect to wait a while because that herd protects the herd. Better bag some apples before setting out for that hike. And, with that sack of apples? You can expect to be followed home upon your return walk. If you don’t know country life or what can kill you in nature, you best not venture out into it.
August 13 – Judith Hall, Modern Suffragist